The California Attorney General’s lawsuit marshals a mountain of evidence to show that the oil industry has known since the 1970s that its products cause harmful climate change, and that it predicted climate impacts with shocking precision. The evidence shows that instead of disclosing these risks, the oil industry did just the opposite. The industry withheld information and lied to the public in an effort to derail actions that could have averted the crisis we now face. California’s lawsuit asks the oil industry to provide funds for abatement actions that will help address the climate-driven harms that the fossil fuel industry helped to inflict on California residents.
Sean B. Hecht, Managing Attorney of Earthjustice’s California Regional Office, notes, “California’s lawsuit draws a clear link between oil industry deception and the billions of dollars that taxpayers are already paying to repair and defend our infrastructure, public health, and ecosystems. The oil industry created a climate crisis by misleading the public and delaying an energy transition. Now we have to spend massive amounts of public money to deal with climate-driven heat, drought, and disasters, all while transitioning to renewables at a breakneck pace.”
California’s lawsuit mirrors successful past efforts to hold tobacco and lead paint industries responsible for the impacts of their deception. The lawsuit is part of a mounting wave of similar suits brought by state and local governments around the country, and it adds powerful new evidence that will lend further support to those lawsuits. Earthjustice fully supports California’s landmark effort to seek accountability and abatement funding.